After the 2023 NBA trade deadline, the San Antonio Spurs made an unexpected move. The rebuilding team waived Stanley Johnson to upgrade Charles Bassey from a two-way contract to the NBA full-time. Spurs fans may be thinking, why?
The team should have an open roster spot, but the team filled its roster by signing Gorgui Dieng for the rest of the season. Just based on playing time and stat comparison the fan base might think that the more intelligent move would be not to sign Dieng on for the rest of the season keep Johnson and sign Bassey.
For an organization in their position, Brian Wright and the Spurs’ front office brilliantly made their moves at the trade deadline. But this decision to waive Johnson and sign Dieng left many scratching their heads, a Lakers blog even called it a “gaffe.” Let’s examine why the Spurs kept Dieng.
The Team Respects The Veteran
If anything can be said about Dieng it’s that he has the respect of the locker room. At 33 he is the oldest Spur, before the season started it seemed like he was a clear leader for the team.
In a tradition as old as time the Spurs held a “Rookie Dinner” before the season. Thanks to Jeremy Sochan’s posting to his Instagram stories we saw that it was not Jakob Poeltl or Keldon Johnson teasing the three new rookies about who was going to pay for dinner, it was Dieng who pulled Malaki Branham’s credit card out of a hat and handed him the bill.
During the season the Spurs signed Charles Bassey to a two-way contract, both Bassey and Dieng are African players so there is a mentorship there on a different level.
Mentoring moment: Gorgui Dieng, 32, walking with Jeremy Sochan, 19, to the bus after shootaround this morning at the Chase Center. #Spurs pic.twitter.com/Nu27ip5y4a— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) November 14, 2022
The Spurs Waive Gorgui Dieng… And He’s Back!
It’s common to see Dieng be the one cheering on his teammates from the sideline. When he does get playing time it looks as if he thoroughly enjoys it.
The NBA above all things is a business though. In January, Boston paid the Spurs to take Noah Vonleh’s contract off their hands Dieng was waived. Shortly after that Vonleh was waived and Dieng signed back-to-back 10-day contacts with the Spurs.
At the trade deadline, Dieng entered into free agency. At the time it looked like Dewayne Dedmon was to take his place. However, Dedmon was waived and Dieng signed a contract for the rest of the season.
The Spurs have signed Gorgui Dieng for the 4th time this season.— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) February 10, 2023
Johnson Goes To Free Agency
Even with all the players being active on social media it’s hard to get a sense of how the players feel. With a tough season a steady veteran presence was more important to the organization than on-the-court production. Johnson is in free agency and Dieng has secured his spot on the roster. This says amazing things about Dieng or horrible things about Johnson. I’d be willing to bet it’s the former rather than the latter because the Spurs have had many opportunities now to move past Dieng but they keep bringing him back.
Dieng is mature and humble enough to know that he is valued by the team. The business side of this doesn’t seem to phase him. For a player at the end of his career mentoring young players poised to star must be rewarding in itself.
If you think the Spurs should’ve traded Johnson instead of waving him, stop right there. Johnson was ineligible to be traded because he wasn’t with the Spurs for 60 days yet. What did you make of this move by the Spurs? Was it a team staying true to a great vet? or are you left scratching your head? was it a mistake? Comment your take below.
Nice article. I fully expect Dieng to be hired into the Spurs coaching staff or front office upon his retirement.
They kept him as a Udonis Haslem-type of a vet presence. GD is more serviceable though when he’s on the floor than UD is at this point in their careers. That simple – not a “gaffe” at all. Don’t be surprised if you find GD in a coaching or front office role with the Spurs when he’s all done. As for Stanley Johnson, we all know how the Spurs consider players’ careers & their roles in a rebuild, especially those still in their primes,